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Friday, May 13, 2011

ADORATION, WORSHIP, AND LITURGY [or: Latria, Dulia, et Liturgia]

About twenty years ago, I began to be uncomfortable with liturgy being described as “public worship.” This was because I felt that worship was only one of the four basic kinds of prayer, along with petition, thanksgiving, and repentance; and that worship did not include all of what took place in liturgy. That is, describing liturgy as public worship could imply that liturgy did not cover the entire range of communal prayer while, at the same time, worship could include forms which were not particularly liturgical because they were not ritual in form, nor official in having their forms set out by denominational authorities. 

As a result of a recent discussion on the Pray Tell Blog, [ ] I described here what I thought was a significant difference between those who favor the Missal of 1570 and those who favor the Missal of 1969/75. The former group wants liturgies which are wondrous, while the latter wants liturgies which are communal. [See ]

Recently, in trying to understand better someone who said that the Mass was entirely about adoration, I looked up the etymologies of both “adoration” and “worship”. It did not help a lot to find out that the Latin ad-orare merely meant “speak to” and English “worth-ship” merely meant “having worth” before being converted to a verb. The fact that the etymological meaning of “pray” is merely “to ask” did not clear up anything either.

So I went to Wikipedia for a refresher on the theological terms latria and dulia. [ ] Here are some excerpts.

Latria is sacrificial in character, and may be offered only to God. Catholics offer other degrees of reverence to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the Saints; these non-sacrificial types of reverence are called hyperdulia and dulia, respectively. In English, dulia is also called veneration.[Mark Miravalle, S.T.D, What is Devotion to Mary? ] Hyperdulia is essentially a heightened degree of dulia provided only to the Blessed Virgin.
This distinction, written about as early as Augustine of Hippo and St Jerome, was detailed more explicitly by Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae, A.D. 1270, II II, 84, 1: "Reverence is due to God on account of His Excellence, which is communicated to certain creatures not in equal measure, but according to a measure of proportion; and so the reverence which we pay to God, and which belongs to latria, differs from the reverence which we pay to certain excellent creatures; this belongs to dulia, and we shall speak of it further on (II II 103 3)"; in this next article St. Thomas Aquinas writes: "Wherefore dulia, which pays due service to a human lord, is a distinct virtue from latria, which pays due service to the Lordship of God. It is, moreover, a species of observance, because by observance we honor all those who excel in dignity, while dulia properly speaking is the reverence of servants for their master, dulia being the Greek for servitude."
Generally, in English, the word adoration is reserved for God alone and therefore it aptly translates latria. The word worship is derived from the W. Saxon noun weorðscipe 'condition of being worthy', which is from weorð 'worthy' + -scipe '-ship'.[ Harper, Douglas. "worship". Online Etymology Dictionary] The word worship is used in a strong sense in relation to God (latria), but also in a weak sense in relation to man: for instance, "His Worship the Mayor", or "Your Worship" (when addressing a magistrate in Court), or the worship of the saints (dulia) as distinct to the adoration of God (latria). Adoration provides a clear and unequivocal, and therefore better, translation of latria and expression of the absolute sacrificial reverence due to God alone.
Protestantism considers the Catholic conception of the Mass as sacrificial to be in error, citing passages such as Heb 6:6, 9:25-28 in arguing that Christ's sacrifice of the Cross was a unique event that need not and can not be repeated. Catholics counter this objection with verses such as Malachi 1:10-11 and rebut that they do not "repeat" the sacrifice of the Cross but merely re-present it to the people.[]
Latria and dulia have two interesting qualities.  Not only are they both entirely vertical in that they relate people to God and not to each other, but they are both specifically upward in conveying what people give to God and not downward in conveying what God gives to people, such as Scripture and Eucharist.
The etymological sources of the two words raise other questions. Given that latria refers to the relationship of a hired servant toward the master, and dulia refers to the relationship of a slave toward the master, are either of these good words to use regarding the liturgia of the brothers and sisters of Jesus, the sons and daughters of God? Do these words describe the acts of royal and priestly people?
It is my impression that Sacrosanctum Concilium taught
both –
that liturgy includes adoration and worship,
and  –
that liturgy is nourishment from God for the members of the Christian community. 
I think that it this inclusive both/and sense which the Second Vatican Council was explicitly teaching and asking the liturgy to be revised to reflect.
C) Norms based upon the didactic and pastoral nature of the Liturgy
33. Although the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty, it likewise contains much instruction for the faithful. For in the liturgy God speaks to His people and Christ is still proclaiming His gospel. And the people reply to God both by song and prayer.
Moreover, the prayers addressed to God by the priest who presides over the assembly in the person of Christ are said in the name of the entire holy people and of all present. And the visible signs used by the liturgy to signify invisible divine things have been chosen by Christ or the Church. Thus not only when things are read "which were written for our instruction" (Rom. 15:4), but also when the Church prays or sings or acts, the faith of those taking part is nourished and their minds are raised to God, so that they may offer Him their rational service and more abundantly receive His grace.
Wherefore, in the revision of the liturgy, the following general norms should be observed:
34. The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.
59. The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the body of Christ, and, finally, to give worship to God; because they are signs they also instruct. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it; that is why they are called "sacraments of faith." They do indeed impart grace, but, in addition, the very act of celebrating them most effectively disposes the faithful to receive this grace in a fruitful manner, to worship God duly, and to practice charity.
It is therefore of the highest importance that the faithful should easily understand the sacramental signs, and should frequent with great eagerness those sacraments which were instituted to nourish the Christian life. []
If those who want wondrous rather than communal liturgy think that liturgy is only latria and nothing else, then, are they in dissent from the teaching of the Church or not discussing liturgy as Sacrosanctum Concilium defined it, but some other and narrower thing?
In order for those usually distinguished as "progressives" and "traditionalists" to be able to speak accurately to each other,   I think we need to ask, “Do those who favor more wondrous, reverent, and awe-filled liturgy think that liturgy is exclusively adoration [latria] or worship [dulia] and nothing else?”
The question for those who favor communal liturgy is, “Do you think that liturgy is exclusively about nourishing the members of the assembly and nothing else?”
I think that to answer, “Yes” to either of these questions is to misunderstand the message of Vatican II.